Have you ever wondered what happens to people who don’t obey God’s will? If you have, there is a good example in the passage from Jeremiah 22:13-23.
Jehoiakim renovated the palace by conscripting his people during the Babylonian crisis, and that reflected his misplaced priorities. He attended to his personal comfort rather than fulfilling his royal duty to care for the poor and the needy. Jehoiakim would not only die, which happened before the Babylonians captured the city of Jerusalem in 597 BC, but there would not even be lament over his death and he would not receive a proper burial.
Jehoiakim’s oppressive ways meant that he did not know God. He saw only an opportunity for wealth. He did not see the needs of the poor. Because he was cruel, no one mourned his death. His burial was the same as the burial of a donkey. Those of you who have ever buried the remains of a dead animal know that it is a very simple task. All you have to do is dig a hole that is big enough for the carcass, put it in the hole and fill the hole. This is not the same as the elaborate burial rituals dead kings and queens receive today.
Those who followed Jehoiakim and his ways were driven out of the country and scattered throughout the world just like the wind scatters seeds that are lying on the ground. God had the last word then, and he has the last word today.
When we serve, when we give to the poor and needy, when we step out of our comfort zones and step into the lives of those who are suffering, we will see God’s heart for people. Generous living is a life of proper stewardship. We aren’t living generously if we give away our time, talent and obligations in one part of our lives but not meeting the obligations in the other parts of our lives.
One of our obligations is to know God. That means more than having a peaceful feeling in our hearts. It means acting for the benefit of others, especially for people who can’t pay us back. If we know God, we will love to serve him. If we know God, he will speak to us in both our prosperity and our hardship. In both cases we have to listen carefully for His voice and hear and obey what He says. What has God been saying to you lately?